Barklice are nothing to worry about

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov,  920-360-0665

Barklice tend to congregate in large groups on trees, which can lead some people to worry about tree health, but they are actually quite harmless.

Immature barklice congregated on bark. Striped abdomens are easy to see before the insects mature into adults and develop wings.

Immature barklice congregated on bark. Striped abdomens are easy to see before the insects mature into adults and develop wings.

Continue reading “Barklice are nothing to worry about”

Insects and disease in storm-damaged trees

On July 19 & 20, two separate lines of severe thunderstorms swept across Wisconsin causing significant forest damage in numerous counties. Straight line winds in excess of 100 mph and 16 documented tornadoes caused extensive damage to trees including main stem breakage, branches and tops broken, tipping and root damage and complete uprooting of trees. After the storms passed, the first order of business was to check on people, clear and open roads and make sure damaged homes were secured. As those tasks were completed, thoughts then turned to the damaged forests.

Map of damage assessment across land ownership types. From 2019 storms in northern Wisconsin.

Coarse-scale damage assessment from recent storms in northern Wisconsin. Percent damage and number of acres affected were estimated during ground and aerial surveys.

Some insects and diseases can take advantage of storm-damaged trees and cause long-term damage to forest stands. Continue reading to learn more about these issues, how to deal with them and how to contact professionals who can help landowners make decisions about their land.

Aerial view of extensive damage to aspen stands. Landscape of trees leaning from high winds.

Aerial view of aspen trees leaning from high wind in storm event.

Pines are first priority

Storm-damaged pine stands should be a landowner’s top priority when deciding where to start. Salvaging pine is much more urgent than oak or other hardwood stands because damaged pines will quickly begin to stain, and insects and disease will rapidly infest the damaged trees.

Broken and leaning pine trees following storm event. Damaged trees are more vulnerable to bark beetle attack.

Bark beetles quickly attack leaning, broken or uprooted pines.

Native bark beetles such as red turpentine (Dendroctonus valens) and pine engraver (Ips pini) will rapidly attack damaged trees that are leaning, broken or uprooted as well as fresh logs in log decks. Bark beetles will continue to attack storm-damaged trees and can move on to attack healthy pine once their populations grow. For more info on bark beetles, check out the WI DNR bark beetle factsheet.

White-spotted sawyer (Monochamus scutellatus) is another native beetle that will move in when a pine tree is nearly dead (or freshly cut). If you’ve ever stood by a conifer log pile and heard scratchy chewing noises, you were listening to this native pine sawyer.

Armillaria is a fungus that attacks the roots of storm-damaged trees. Tree mortality from armillaria root disease won’t show up until 1-3 years after the storm.

The bottom line to minimize insect and disease issues is to harvest your pines as soon as possible after the storm. Check out this printer-friendly factsheet for more information about salvage harvests, pests and replanting in storm-damaged pine stands.

Heterobasidion root disease in pine and spruce

Heterobasidion root disease (HRD), previously known as annosum, is a serious fungal disease of conifers, particularly pine and spruce. Infected trees decline and eventually die. Infection occurs when a spore lands on a freshly cut stump and germinates. Once in a stand, the disease can move from an infected stump to nearby trees through root contact, eventually killing those neighboring trees.

If a pine or spruce stand is within 25 miles of a known HRD pocket and a harvest or salvage will be done, it is recommended to treat pine and spruce stumps with a preventative fungicide within 24 hours of the tree being cut. To find out if you’re within 25 miles of a known HRD pocket, check out the interactive HRD web map.

When salvaging storm-damaged trees, it may be difficult to quickly find a logger who is certified to apply pesticides or one who has the equipment to spray the stumps as they are being cut. It may also be impractical or impossible for logging equipment to cut and treat those trees that are down or broken. Although efforts should be made to arrange preventive stump treatment, under this type of emergency harvesting, treatment of stumps at the time of harvest may not be practical. Refer to the HRD guidelines and the modifications that reference salvage (Chapter 3, Modification 4, and Chapter 4, Modification 4). For more information about HRD, visit the DNR HRD webpage.

Hemlock borer

Hemlock borer (Melanophila fulvoguttata) is a flatheaded wood-boring beetle whose immature stage bores into stressed or recently killed hemlocks. Storm-damaged hemlocks provide a good breeding ground for hemlock borers, and their populations grow large enough that they attack living hemlocks. To avoid hemlock borer attack on living hemlocks, promptly salvage windblown hemlock following a storm event. If you must thin standing trees around living hemlocks, the intensity of thinning should be as light as possible.

Oaks and other hardwood stands

Distribution of oak wilt in Wisconsin showing sparse distribution in most northern counties.

Counties shown in red have oak wilt throughout the county, although it may not be in every stand. Oak wilt is not common in northern Wisconsin.

Don’t rush – deterioration of oak is not an immediate concern. A thoughtful approach to salvaging your oak stands will be more beneficial in the long term. Oaks with broken roots or major branch/stem breakage may be attacked by the native two-lined chestnut borer (Agrilus bilineatus). Larvae of this beetle bore under the bark of oaks and can girdle and kill branches or entire trees. Branch mortality or whole tree mortality due to this insect will show up 1-3 years after a major stress event like these storms.

 The good news is that the July 19 and 20 storms occurred after the high-risk period for new oak wilt infections. Oaks are highly susceptible to infection by the oak wilt fungus (Bretziella fagacearum) during spring and early summer (April 15 – July 15 in the north and April 1 – July 15 in southern Wisconsin). Oaks in the red oak group will be killed completely while just a branch may die on white and bur oaks.

If salvage of stands with oak will occur next spring during the high risk period, please see the oak wilt guidelines for information on harvesting to minimize introduction of oak wilt There is a guideline modification for salvage harvesting that you could consider, so check out the guidelines to decide what is best for your property. Read more about oak wilt on the DNR oak wilt webpage.

What to salvage

Uprooted trees, and those with completely broken tops, will die and should be salvaged. Standing trees with some broken branches are judgment calls. A general rule is to salvage the tree if more than 50% of the crown or top is broken, but there may be situations when these damaged trees could be left to help your forest recover. A professional forester can help you with these determinations. Trees that are leaning may have broken roots or broken stem fibers and should be considered for salvage. Check locally for wood disposal sites or refer to the DNR page on cleaning up storm debris.

Firewood

Storm-damaged trees can be utilized for firewood, but you should be careful not to move firewood long distances and risk introducing invasive species like emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and oak wilt to new areas. Instead, let the firewood age in place and burn it locally. For more information, visit the DNR firewood page. Always use proper protective equipment when operating a chainsaw.

Continued monitoring

Trees do not recover from stresses very quickly. Dieback, and even mortality associated with the storm, could continue for 2-3 years. Hail damage associated with the storms may not be apparent until next spring. You should continue to monitor your storm-damage stands for several years, especially if additional stresses occur in the year or years after the storm damage (such as a drought, defoliation, etc.). If you notice trees dying in the year following the storm or even two years after the storm, you should discuss this with your forester.

Replanting when do you start over?

If you have a pine stand that was salvaged and you plan to replant to pine on that site, wait!  Pales weevil (Hylobius pales) is a native insect that will infest freshly cut pine stumps. That alone is not a concern, but as new adults emerge from stumps, they must do a “maturation feeding” on conifer twigs, which can girdle them. If the only “twigs” available are the seedlings that you just planted then they will feed on those, possibly killing the seedling and causing extensive failure of your new planting. Wait for the second springtime following your salvage/harvest before you replant. Example: you salvaged your stand in August 2019, you should not replant until the spring of 2021. Another example: you salvage your stand in May 2020, you should not replant conifers on that site until spring of 2022.

Talk with a professional

If you’re still unsure of how to proceed with making decisions about the storm damage on your land, you should contact a professional forester or forest health specialist for insect and disease questions. You can also find lots of resources and information on recovery from the storm at the Wisconsin DNR storm damage page. Major storms like this can devastate a landscape and deal a crushing blow to the family forest. Discussing your options with a forester and creating a game plan that will benefit you and your land will start you on the road to forest recovery.

Aerial view of extensive storm damage surrounding a home in Wisconsin.

Storm damage was extensive in numerous counties. For scale, note the house near the center of this photo.

Happy 75th Birthday Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear, Cheers to 75 Years of Preventing Wildfires

Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th birthday.“With a Ranger’s hat and shovel and a pair of dungarees, you will find him in the forest always sniffin’ at the breeze…” – If this jingle sounds familiar, then one might know we are talking about the living symbol of fire prevention and our beloved friend, Smokey Bear!

With the longest-running public service campaign in U.S. history under his belt, Smokey has taught millions of Americans about the role in preventing wildfires since 1944.  Seventy-five years later, Smokey celebrates a milestone birthday.

To support Wisconsin’s fire prevention efforts, Governor Tony Evers proclaimed August 9th, 2019 as ‘Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday’ through a signed Office of the Governor Proclamation to honor and observe this historic event, recognizing Smokey’s contribution to the education, health and safety for the past 75 years of Wisconsin’s citizens.

“As far as recognition goes, Smokey Bear ranks right up there behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse,” says Catherine Koele, Department of Natural Resource wildfire prevention specialist. “Many of us remember Smokey from our childhoods.  We’d see him in parades, on posters, in magazines or occasionally in TV commercials.  If we were lucky enough, maybe he’d stop by the classroom and teach us about fire safety.”

Take a peek at the History of Smokey Bear—a timeline of important events over the last 75 years!

Smokey gives back

Throughout Smokey’s 75th birthday year, Smokey himself will be giving back to local communities in Wisconsin by celebrating somebody else’s birthday.  The DNR is partnering with the non-profit organization Box of Balloons to support fire prevention and the mission to make a child’s birthday happy, celebrated and memorable.

Coordinated by eleven chapters across the state, Box of Balloons provides birthday boxes to children below poverty.  This year, Box of Balloons will be highlighting outdoor recreation and Smokey Bear themed birthday boxes for Pre-Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.  Each box and birthday celebration will include a surprise visit by Smokey Bear.  DNR forestry staff, acting as Smokey, will also provide fire prevention activities to educate and entertain the children attending each party.Celebrate Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday

This unique partnership will help both organizations expand into rural communities in hopes of getting Smokey’s image in front of children while also helping them feel special and celebrated on their birthdays. To learn more about the mission or support the efforts provided by Box of Balloons, visit boxofballoons.org.

Celebrate with Smokey!
Swing by the Wisconsin State Fair August 1-11 and visit Smokey at Exploratory Park.  On August 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the DNR will host a special birthday party. Smokey will be making appearances at several of our state parks and forests in the coming weeks.  To find out where, visit the DNR’s event calendar at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “get outdoors”  For more information on Smokey and his birthday, visit smokeybear.com.

Celebrate Smokey’s 75th birthday — take Smokey’s Pledge, share his message, consider alternatives to burning or encourage friends and family to be more careful with fire.  Doing your part will help ensure Wisconsin’s most treasured landscapes – and the people and wildlife who call them home – are safe from devastating, unplanned and unwanted fires.  Cheers to another 75 years, Smokey Bear!

Watch Smokey show off his dancing skills on the steps of the Capitol in a F.I.R.E video with Wisconsin firefighters as they sing happy birthday to the YMCA tune from the Village People.

American Transmission Company now accepting grant applications

 

The American Transmission Company (ATC) is accepting applications until September 30, 2019 for its Community Planting Program and Pollinator Habitat Program. Awards for both programs range from $100 to $5,000.  Recipients will be selected and notified by the end of the year.American Transmission Company logo Continue reading “American Transmission Company now accepting grant applications”

How do Wisconsin professionals use outreach materials to engage residents in urban tree care?

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and UW-Madison Division of Extension (UWEX) are partnering to better understand the informational resources available to professionals who provide tree care advice and services to urban residents in Wisconsin. Using information collected from an exploratory survey in early 2019, DNR and UWEX staff plan to improve access to these resources and address additional needs by creating new resources. Next steps include identifying a place where existing and new materials can be easily accessed by all audiences.

When asked to report the most commonly discussed topics with homeowners, pests and diseases emerged as the top issue (36% of respondents) with tree planting/care/selection or tree pruning as other popular topics (20-23% of respondents respectively). While 75% of respondents say that they use verbal advice to share information with residents always or most of the time, they also identified a diverse range of topics and types of content that they would find useful when communicating with their audiences. Click this link to view the wide range of suggestions offered by survey respondents.

Assistance for private woodland owners impacted by recent storms

Severe storms swept the northwest, northeast, and west central portions of the State from Friday, July 19th through the evening of Saturday, July 20th. The storms consisted of severe straight-line winds, large hail, heavy rains, and tornadic activity, resulting in significant tree damage on both public and private properties. Left unchecked, damaged trees can also result in major economic losses and create significant forest management problems. The DNR has been partnering with local municipalities to assist with recovery efforts by helping with debris removal.

In addition, the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry has staff available to assist and connect you with the resources needed to mitigate the damages that have occurred from the recent storms. Depending on the situation, local DNR foresters may provide a property walk through, connect you with Cooperating Foresters and Logging Operators that work in the area, provide you with publications and information or direct you to federal resources such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Find your local DNR County Forester by going to mywisconsinwoods.org/foresters/

 

Flooding affects forest stands across state

By Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov, 608-513-7690

It’s another wet year in many parts of Wisconsin with water levels in lakes and rivers remaining very high. Seasonally wet areas are staying wet for longer, and areas that have not been wet for years are flooding or experiencing rising ground water levels. DNR forest health staff are increasingly noticing tree mortality due to these hydrologic issues. This occurs because flooding and high water reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil, depriving trees with submerged roots of the oxygen needed for growth and respiration. Along with submerged roots, trees can also die from uprooting and from subsequent insect and disease attack following flooding stress.

Trees being impacted by river flooding.

Trees being impacted by river flooding.

It may become necessary to conduct salvage harvests in flooded stands. Of course, the flooding also makes site access difficult. This is particularly concerning in stands where salvage harvests are needed to capture value, such as stands impacted by insects like emerald ash borer and eastern larch beetle.

Please let your local forest health specialist know if you are seeing flood-damaged stands. It is recommended to keep setting up salvage sales where appropriate. Access to wet or flooded sites can be difficult and may require frozen ground conditions if the site is expected to remain wet in the near-term.

Find your local forest health specialist on the DNR forest health webpage and learn more about flooding damage and mitigation with this resource from UW-Madison Division of Extension.

Please report damage to white and bur oaks

By Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov, 608-513-7690; Alex Feltmeyer, forest health specialist, Plover, Alex.Feltmeyer@wisconsin.gov, 715-340-3810; and Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

Forest health staff are again noticing health issues with white and bur oaks in 2019. A few trees with dieback in 2018 were recently resurveyed and were found to have recovered well. However, variable symptoms are appearing again in some areas. Forest health staff are conducting site visits to determine if the causal agents are the same as in 2018. Last year, leaf damage resulted from leaf fungal pathogens and twig damage was caused by Botryosphaeria fungi and gall wasps.

Please report any white or bur oak issues you notice to your local forest health specialist.

Same bur oak in June 2019 showing good recovery with only minor dieback.

Same bur oak in June 2019 showing good recovery with only minor dieback.

Bur oak with moderate crown dieback in June 2018.

Bur oak with moderate crown dieback in June 2018.